When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Kroger Field (formerly Commonwealth Stadium)
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Series: Kentucky leads 4-0
Last meeting: Kentucky won 34-27 in overtime on Oct. 3, 2015, in Lexington
The story line
Coming off a 24-17 road victory at Southern Mississippi that was sparked by defense and special teams play, Kentucky will seek to get its offense going in its home opener against Eastern Kentucky. Coach Mark Elder’s Colonels gave a strong account of themselves before falling 31-17 at Western Kentucky last week.
On the spot
Dean Hood. The Kentucky outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator was head man at Eastern Kentucky from 2008-15, leading the Colonels to a 55-38 record, three FCS playoff appearances and two OVC titles before being dismissed. If UK’s outside linebackers and special teams play as well in week two as they did at Southern Mississippi, Hood’s EKU reunion will be enjoyable.
The big threat
Tim Boyle. A transfer from Connecticut, EKU quarterback Boyle was terrific last week at WKU. The 6-foot-4, 233-pound redshirt senior completed 29 of 46 passes against a well-regarded Western secondary for 320 yards and two touchdowns. Boyle and receivers Ryan Markush (seven receptions, 107 yards, two TDs) and Neiko Creamer (six catches, 79 yards), a transfer from Tennessee, will be a challenge to a Kentucky secondary that allowed Southern Mississippi to throw for 309 yards.
Given that Kentucky has won eight of its past 12 games, it’s not as jolly as one might expect. UK’s offensive struggles (254 total yards) in its victory at Southern Miss created ample fan unease over the ultimate fate of the Cats’ 2017 season. Beating an FCS opponent won’t change that, but getting the offense untracked would lighten the mood some.